What is now known as the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, which is held every year at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha on the second Saturday in August, was first held to commemorate the visit of the Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1952. Around 16 boats take part in this fiercely contested event that attracts an enormous number of spectators annually.
Made by highly skilled carpenters, there are four kinds of boats- Chundan, Kettu, Kevu and Churulan. Chundan (the famous Kerala snake boat) is the most majestic with its raised, pointed prow that resembles a snake’s hood. Brass mouldings decorate the stern of the boats, which can reach up to 60-70 meters long. Manned by 100- 125 oarsmen and four helmsmen, the boat also carries some 25 singers to urge the oarsmen on with rousing songs called Vanchipaattu. The team Sri Ganeshan of St. Francis Boat Club won the 61st Nehru Trophy Boat Race which took place on Saturday, 10th August.